fiddler on the roof

I realized something weird today. Out of the 172 posts I've written (yeah.), I've only featured two musicals. And I really love musicals. I can only think of one musical I didn't enjoy--From Justin to Kelly--and nobody enjoyed that one. I don't even think Justin and Kelly enjoyed that one.

So I'm going to be talking more about musicals I love, starting with Fiddler on the Roof. My parents brought me up on this one; I think I probably saw it for the first time in third or fourth grade, and then I think we came close to wearing out the VHS. My parents would close their eyes reverently when Isaac Stern would get going on his solo during the title credits, we'd all sing along with all the songs. And as part of his extraordinary parenting philosophy, Dad would spout Fiddler wisdom at really random times ("why, you ask? I'll tell you. I don't know"). It went well with his Rolling Stones wisdom ("you can't always get what you want") and his Pink Floyd wisdom ("if you can't eat your meat...")


For me, Fiddler is one of those classic movies, like The Princess Bride and The Wizard of Oz, that never fail to entertain and thrill me, even if I think I know the whole thing by heart. Of course it's got its classic moments: the parents singing "Sunrise, Sunset" at the wedding; the freakishly awesome bottle dancers (does anyone know if those bottles were somehow affixed to those hats? Mr. N and I had a bit of a disagreement about that); and my favorite part, the drunken inter-cultural dancing at the tavern.

What really sets Fiddler on the Roof apart, though, is its lush versatility. In one cinematic breath, it showcases the mundane life of a Russian turn-of-the-century peasant, and then knocks you over the head with huge issues like revolution and bigotry. This movie goes in a heartbeat from light comedic banter, to poignant longing for a simpler time, to plain awe at what makes life beautiful.

Most of all, I love to watch Tevye as he navigates the precarious tight space between his long-held beliefs and his love for his daughters. It mirrors what I've figured out in the past few years: just because you've believed something as long as you can remember, don't be surprised when you learn it's worthless in the face of real life.
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1 Response to "fiddler on the roof"

  1. Jess says:
    September 25, 2009 at 8:31 AM

    I too LOVE Fiddler. As for the bottles, I've worked on two productions, and I think they're always attached for high school productions, but usually not for professional productions, so I imagine for the movie they wouldn't be, but since it's such a huge scene they might have done it to make sure they didn't have to reshoot the whole thing if a bottle fell.

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